Player or Boyfriend? It’s Written On His Forehead

July 31, 2009

Wouldn’t it be great if you could take one look at someone’s face and know if they were relationship material? It turns out that people are remarkably accurate at predicting just that. A study at Durham University in England showed that Boyfriends look significantly different than Players. Check out this example:


At first I thought these were pics of the same guy, with the one on the right having been altered in some way. Actually, they are both composites of 17 different people. Lefty is made up of guys who are only interested in a long-term relationship. Righty includes men who are looking for a one-night stand.

The study asked 700 heterosexual college students to separate the Keepers from the Throwbacks, and found that they got it right 72% of the time. The implications of this are dramatic:

The face a man is born with reflects his level of interest in commitment. Why? Testosterone.

Men with higher testosterone are more interested in no-strings sex. And they have markedly different facial characteristics, including:

  • larger foreheads
  • pronounced brow ridges
  • smaller eyes
  • larger noses
  • squarer jaws

These are the traits often associated with masculinity. A featured specimen:

Clive Owen

Clive Owen








Men with softer features are more likely to be interested in relating emotionally:

Matthew Fox

No woman in her right mind would turn down either one of these guys for a Hit and Run, but I would definitely choose Jack/Matthew Fox to be the father of my babies!

Here are the female composites:









In this case, the men overwhelmingly preferred the photo on the right, who they correctly surmised was more interested in a fling. Apparently, large, wide eyes, large lips and small jaws correlate to interest in short-term sex. They also correlate to modern cultural standards of beauty. It may be simply that for women, the more attractive you are, the more sexual opportunities you have.

Some other interesting findings:

  • Men nearly always picked the Party Girl, regardless of what kind of relationship they were seeking.
  • Women are much more interested in the male who appears to be seeking a long-term relationship.
  • Women found promiscuous looking guys unattractive for both long and short-term relationships.
  • Women are quite good at predicting which female composite is looking for NSA sex.
  • Men showed little ability to differentiate between the preferences of the two male composites.
  • The study confirmed previous findings that women are more likely to consider masculine men cheaters or bad parents.
  • High estrogen loves high testosterone. Just before ovulation, women have higher estrogen. During this time, they might feel more attracted to high-testosterone men.

What does this mean for you?

1. You can, and should judge a book by its cover.

2. Female intuition is real and powerful.

3. Steer clear of jocks, frat stars and other meatheads if you’re looking for love. Theoretically, they may be good at passing strong survival genes on to your potential offspring, but are less likely to stick around and help raise them.

4. It’s more proof that geeks make good husbands.

5. Emo/sensitive guys are better relationship risks.